Vice President of Learning and Engagement

Oakland Zoo - Oakland, California - Full time


Oakland Zoo (managed by The Conservation Society of California) is an award-winning facility stretching 100 acres and overlooking the city of Oakland atop the hills of beautiful Knowland Park. Our mission is to inspire respect for and stewardship of the natural world, while providing a quality visitor experience. As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Oakland Zoo is part of the largest conservation organization in the nation. Our employees take PRIDE in our values of being Positive, Respectful, Inquisitive, Driven and Effective members of a team who places the care of our animals, stewardship of the natural environment, and the experience of our guests at the forefront of all that we do.

To learn more about Oakland Zoo, please visit


  • The Vice President of Learning and Engagement determines and directs Oakland Zoo educational and interpretive strategies in collaboration with the CEO and the Conservation Society of California (CSC) Board of Trustees, other executive team members, managers and Education Department staff to ensure that educational and interpretive offerings are integrated with, and support the needs of the Oakland community.
  • The Vice President of Learning and Engagement examines local programmatic needs and co-creates learning opportunities with the community, expanding access for students and community based organizations.
  • The Vice President of Learning and Engagement oversees the selection, design, development and delivery of all educational and interpretive programming, including on- and off-site school instruction, volunteer and Docent programs, overnights and zoo camps, zoo tours, family, and community and public outreach programs.
  • The Vice President of Learning and Engagement, identifies and provides instruction for best practices in teaching and interpretation to staff and other local, formal and informal STEM educators. Best practices are identified through an understanding of and collaboration with the Oakland community. This person is responsible for oversight and management of all Education facilities at Oakland Zoo.
  • As a member of the executive team, the Vice President of Learning and Engagement reports directly to the Senior Vice President of Revenue and Impact, and works directly with the Board of Trustees Education Committee and other CSC Board members.
  • This position requires regular on-site engagement with occasional evening and weekend work.


Key Responsibilities of the Vice President of Learning and Engagement include:

  • Planning and Organizing: Oversee the development, presentation and measured effectiveness of all educational and interpretive curriculum and material for paid and public programs, events and camps at Oakland Zoo - with an emphasis on climate literacy, action and awareness. Lead and oversee the creation and implementation of “outside the box” interpretive programming in all venues and guest contact points using Oakland Zoo’s assets. Identifies and develops new programs to enhance revenue capabilities and maintain educational programming that is relevant to informal and formal, classroom science instruction.
  • Managing: Manages and leads a diverse team of full-time administrative and instructional staff, as well as part-time and seasonal employees. Serves as a member of Oakland Zoo’s Executive Team and collaborates with the Education staff and Executive Leadership Team in the development and achievement of goals for the department. Supports all Volunteer Services’ efforts in creating and implementing original methods of recruiting, training and managing volunteer staff. Collaborates with Program Directors to establish performance plans, conduct coaching reviews and evaluate performance and merit pay increases and bonuses in recognition of staff contributions.
  • Collaborating: Establish and sustain effective inter-departmental communication to incorporate current animal welfare and conservation efforts into educational and interpretive material. Develop and sustain active and mutually-productive partnerships with other conservation entities, schools and universities, businesses, community-based organizations, societies and professionals to develop curriculum, content and innovative programming. Represents Oakland Zoo and the Education Department at community functions and events as needed.
  • Fundraising & Budget Management: Prepares and manages the Education Department budget. Assists the Senior Vice President of Revenue and Impact in the identification and coordination of grant opportunities for the department.


A successful first year in this role for the new Vice President of Learning and Engagement will include:

  • Assessing staffing structure to meet agreed upon goals.
  • Evaluating and prioritizing program delivery and impact.
  • Development of community and academic partnership strategy and implementation.
  • Establishing relationships across the organization, staff and board in order to advocate for department priorities.


Oakland Zoo does not expect every applicant to have every skill and qualification listed here and will consider the combination of formal education, training, and practical experience of each applicant. We are committed to supporting the career development of our employees. A strong candidate who is interested in growing and learning in this role will possess at least 75% of the following qualifications. If this is you, then we strongly encourage you to apply.

In order to fulfill these responsibilities, the ideal Vice President of Learning and Engagement candidate will be/will have:

  • An accomplished leader with 10+ years of success in environmental/outdoor education formal and/or informal learning environments;
  • Experience managing a team and an operating budget;
  • Experience serving as an external ambassador for the organization with partners like funders, community members, Oakland Unified School District, other K-12 public school organizations and local education institutions;
  • A deep understanding of education, including policy, best practices, current issues, informal and formal classroom instruction, and learning pedagogy;
  • Experience in the field of conservation and environmental research, fieldwork, and leading practices around climate change curriculum;
  • Experience working with a Board of Trustees and advocating for staff and departmental needs and priorities;
  • An understanding and commitment to proactively centering diversity, inclusion and equity within the Education Department;
  • Excellent writing, presentation, interviewing, public speaking, partnership-building, and grant writing;
  • Intellectual curiosity, a high level of emotional intelligence and strategic thinking skills;
  • Ability to lead and develop others in a flexible and changing work environment, willingness to travel, innovative thinker, and a team player.


This position offers a competitive salary range of $140,000 - $155,000, and robust benefits including, but not limited to, medical, dental, vision, retirement, PTO, EAP, and Family Zoo Membership. More details can be provided upon request.


Please submit a resume online at For additional questions about this position or to speak with someone about your interest, please contact Corina Ramos at or at 510.495.0040.

Oakland Zoo is an equal opportunity employer and an organization that values diversity. Recruiting staff to create an inclusive organization is a priority, and we encourage applicants from all backgrounds. Candidates are evaluated solely on their qualifications to perform the work required.

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Curriculum Design

Experience Level

Senior Level

Oakland Zoo

Oakland Zoo is an award-winning facility in Knowland Park. Our mission is to inspire respect/stewardship of the natural world and provide quality experience. As a member of the AZA, we are part of the largest conservation organization in the nation.
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